Happiness and contentment in life come from the merging of Opportunity and Talent. My Dad had Talent but no Opportunity so could not find a way to learn to play the Violin. I had Opportunity but no Talent -- I lack the physical ability to complete a Thru Hike of the Appalachian Trail. I failed to learn this lesson even after numerous section hikes, but in the Spring of 2013, after 41.6 miles hiking in MD and PA, I learned the lesson that Dad had in mind when he told me to "hike the Trail." This Blog is now about the Merging of Opportunity and Talent more than it is about hiking the Appalachian Trail, but I still plan to include snippets of the Trail in the Blog. It's about Chasing the Trail of Life. I hope you enjoy my posts.

COMPUTER TRESPASS---RCW 9A.52.110---Computer trespass in the first degree.

(1) A person is guilty of computer trespass in the first degree if the person, without authorization, intentionally gains access to a computer system or electronic database of another; and (a) The access is made with the intent to commit another crime; or (b) The violation involves a computer or database maintained by a government agency.

(2) Computer trespass in the first degree is a class C felony.

This Blog is Dedicated to my Dad. Although he never accomplished his dream of learning to play the Violin, he did construct and play a Dulcimer at an Elderhostel.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

July 18, 2004: Unprepared Hikers Burden Baxter Park Staff

This is only one article from 9 years ago (there are many more current articles) and it does not describe the complete incident.  Surviving to tell the story turns a life-threatening event into an exciting adventure.  I wonder how the "adventure" would have been described if, during the 32 hour ordeal, one or more participants had died?  

Turning a near tragedy into an exciting hike is an example of what I now call: "The Mystic Order of the Appalachian Trail" -- whose sole members are those Appalachian Trail hikers who survive life-threatening and risky experiences while hiking the Trail which get translated in their telling into an "heroic and challenging adventure" merely because none of the participants succumbed to any of the many dangerous situations they and the Trail placed them in and who have sworn themselves never to reveal the true dangers and their near-fatal instances while hiking the Trail. 

Someone will want to comment that "you could die in your bed or on the Trail; I choose the Trail." Fine and good, but please be considerate of others and do not place your rescuers in danger. If you have a Trail Death Wish, do not carry a "Spot" or satellite phone and do not use your cell-phone when you place yourself in a life-threatening situation or when you injure yourself because you chose to place yourself in harm's way.  Calling for help to get yourself out of a predicament on the Appalachian Trail which you chose to place yourself in is the height of Trail Hypocrisy! Take responsibility for hiking the Trail and do not expect others to bail you out because of your lack of adequate gear, planning, preparation, or physical health or ability. 

Just because the Trail is "there" and you think you have a "right" to hike it, does not give you permission to take risks and then expect others to rescue you because you choose to "die on the Trail rather than at home." No, you do NOT choose to "die on the Trail!" You choose to have someone, Park Employee, Ranger, Volunteer, Rescue Unit, another hiker, come save you so you can "die at home."  Be honest -- or refuse to call for rescue -- do not be a hypocrite! 

Quote: The park doesn’t require reimbursement by those rescued. Caverly suggested to the trustees that they might consider it in the future to apply to individuals "who say they have a right to go" hiking in hazardous weather conditions. End Quote. 

By Phyllis Austin, Maine Environmental News (www.meepi.org). 10/25/04

On the night of July 18, 2004, rain and fog shrouded Katahdin, and three women – one of them 81 years old – hovered in the dark on the mountain’s high plateau.

Loretta Copeland of Ocala, Florida, was so tired from the 5.2-mile hike up the Hunt trail to the 5,267-foot summit that she couldn’t make it back down. Her 65-year-old companions, Nancy Keegan of West Palmetto, Florida, and Patty Faith from Altoona, Pennsylvania, were not able to leave her. A lone hiker who happened to come across the trio, decided to stay with them for support.

The rangers at Katahdin Stream campground were notified by returning hikers that Loretta Copeland needed help. Searchers proceeded up the trail for two-and-a-half hours. At 11 p.m., they still hadn’t found the women and turned back because the weather made it too risky to continue.

Rangers were enroute again by 7 a.m. When they finally located the women, they placed Copeland on a stretcher. The evacuation off the mountain took six hours. Copeland was transported by ambulance to the Millinocket hospital and kept overnight for observation.


The search and rescue efforts were highlighted by park director Buzz Caverly at the October 15 [2004],meeting of the Park Authority because "it was amazing" to have people in that age category on Katahdin. "Older people decided it was time to conquer Katahdin, without realizing you don’t conquer the mountain," he observed.

Dan Martin, one of the authority’s three members and head of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, responded that his agency is "seeing the same thing" with search and rescue of more older people outdoors. "These are people in their 70s, 80s, early 90s," he said. "They give out . . . are ill-prepared." 


"People look at Katahdin as a piece of cake [to climb]," Caverly told the park trustees at the fall meeting at Kidney Pond. But the mountain is formidable, and hikers of all ages should take it seriously and follow "good Boy Scout rules," he said.

( I contend that it is "The Mystic Order of the Appalachian Trail" and the books and Trail Journals and web-blogs which are at least partly responsible for this false and dangerous assumption that Katahdin is "fun" and a "challenge" rather than a more accurate description: formidable and life-endangering, even for healthy and prepared hikers. Hiking the Appalachian Trail is not a "walk in the woods" but is a physical and mental undertaking. Everyone who dreams of becoming a "2000-Miler" or Thru Hiker is encouraged to take an honest inventory of his/her skills, abilities, health and age. Hike Your Own Hike and, as Francis Tapon wrote: find out what that phrase means in your life. )

Read more about the difficulty and dangers of hiking Katahdin and the Whites here: http://www.meepi.org/files04/pa102504.htm

1 comment:

  1. The question was posted: Do you think hikers have learned anything since this story was written?

    My response: In a word: no.

    Hikers (and people in general) have learned a lot, but they still intentionally take risks which should they need rescue, put their rescuers in danger. The goal becomes paramount until the hiker gets himself/herself into a
    life-threatening predicament at which point survival and rescue become the only thing important.

    Lots of examples abound --- people don't skydive without thorough instruction and preparation -- people don't climb Everest without proper acclimation, preparation, and gear - nor do they go alone - and they have a contingency plan - and often they weigh the risks (weather/altitude sickness/physical toll) and turn back rather than risk others lives as well as their own - and often rescue personnel are part of their entourage -- people don't rock climb or whitewater kayak or do any number of risky adventures with the same nonchalant attitude
    that people have when it comes to "hiking." After all, hiking is just walking, right?

    The White Mountains are no different from the Shenanodoah Mountains, right?

    Katahdin is no different from Springer, right?

    Hike your own hike & do not place your rescuers in life threatening situations to bail you out for making a risky decision.